There will be fewer voting precincts, more early voting sites in Duval County when polls open for presidential primary

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The next statewide election in Florida, the presidential primary, is a little more than six months away.

And there are changes regarding voting in that primary and other elections that are going to take place in Jacksonville.

Those changes could affect where voters can cast ballots and the equipment used there.

On Thursday, Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland presented his budget to the Jacksonville City Council.

He said Duval County needs to replace some of the equipment that people use to vote and early voting sites will be expanded.

It’s been eight years since Holland has overseen elections in Jacksonville.

“Well, it feels like coming home, but in a lot of ways, also, there’s challenges when you come back in what you see the needs are and trying to address those needs,” Holland said.

Right now, those challenges involve the machines people use to vote. Holland pointed out to the city council finance committee the need for new tabulators which could cost over $2 million.

Tabulators are what the voter puts their ballot in to count that ballot and they’re at the end of the road.

“What happens is failure rates,” Holland said. “And when they fail, they stop working. And so at that point at a precinct when a ballot tabulator fails, then you can’t put your ballot in. And then we have to at the poll, put it in an envelope, save it until we send another piece of equipment out that evening to run the ballots through. And that loses a lot of trust in the voters.”

Another change is where people vote.

Many voting precincts in Duval County are shifting, there will be fewer. It has to do with a lawsuit brought by several local voters that is about to be settled.

“There could be changes to your precinct and so your precinct may still be there. Or you may have to go to a new precinct, you know that won’t be much further away. But will be probably further than the location you went to,” Holland said.

Another change is early voting locations.

Groups have been protesting about removing the early voting sites at Edward Waters University and other areas of Jacksonville. Holland said his office is adding five new sites, including the Edward Waters location.

The head of the local NAACP applauded the move and commended Holland for listening to their needs.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.